Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

Meet a Colleague: Sybil Prince Nelson ‘01 Sybil Prince Nelson ‘01 is an assistant professor of mathematics.

Sybil-Prince-Nelson-scaled-600x400 Meet a Colleague: Sybil Prince Nelson ‘01Sybil Prince Nelson ‘01, assistant professor of mathematics

Q. How long have you worked at W&L?
I started in 2020 so this is my fourth year at W&L.

Q. What is your favorite course to teach, and why?
Currently, I think Calculus I is my favorite course to teach. It is usually filled with first-years and I love being their introduction to college math. When I was a student, it was my first-year Calculus class that convinced me to switch my major from English to math. I hope to pass on that enthusiasm to the next generation of students.

Q. What is the most satisfying aspect of teaching?
I think the most satisfying aspect is taking someone that hates math, or is scared of math, and showing them just how fun and beautiful it can be.

Q. What do you like most about working at W&L?
I like the pedagogical freedom that W&L affords me. When I have an idea, I have the resources and support to make it happen. For example, I’ll be teaching a statistics in music course in South Korea this spring.

Q. Where is your favorite location on the W&L campus?
My favorite location is Evans Dining Hall. It’s where I had my wedding reception a month after graduating from Washington and Lee. I subsequently learned a lot about its namesake Letitia Pate Evans. She was a pretty awesome lady.

Q. What advice do you have for students?
Don’t be too set on a certain major. I entered W&L as an English and journalism major and I graduated as a math and music major. Truly explore all that a liberal arts education has to offer.

Q. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
I have too many hobbies to name. But one of my favorite things to do is write novels. And watch K-dramas.

Q. Where did you grow up?
Daytona Beach, Florida.

Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child, I wanted to be an illustrator – then I discovered I couldn’t draw.

Q. Who inspired you to teach? What about them inspired you?
Paul Bourdon, a former math professor at W&L, is the one who inspired me to teach. When I was a first-year at W&L, he just made math come alive. I decided then and there that I wanted to teach math – and tell bad math jokes.

Q. What is the most adventurous thing that you have ever done?
I put a knife through someone’s hand. It was my own hand, it was an accident, and led to 12 weeks of physical therapy. But I am the only one in my family that can say they stabbed someone. #streetcred

Q. What book are you reading now?
“If You Could See the Sun” by Ann Liang.

Q. What music are you listening to these days?
Hozier, Sleeping at Last and Gabe Bondoc.

Q. What is the website you visit most often and why?
Either YouTube to listen to music because I am too cheap to buy Spotify, or ChatGPT because AI fascinates me and I use it for everything from practicing my languages to brainstorming novel ideas.

Q. If you could have coffee with one person, who would it be and why?
Octavia Butler author of “Kindred.” I loved the book and want to talk to her about it.

Q. If you could live anywhere, where would you build your dream home?
On a mountain in South Korea or Japan.

Q. What is your favorite film (movie) of all time?
“The Wedding Singer” with Adam Sandler.

Q. If they made a movie about your life, who would play you?
Renee Elise Goldsberry because any movie about me will definitely be a musical.

Q. What is your desert island food?
Salted Peanuts.

Q. Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
Most people don’t know that I have over 20 published novels or that I used my music composition degree from W&L to compose the music in my wedding.

Q. What is your secret talent?
Maybe not a secret talent but an odd talent. I have Synesthesia. My senses cross. So for me, I see numbers, days of the week and some letters as colors. It makes me experience math in a different way but other than that there are no real benefits. In fact, it is a detriment sometimes. For example, I speak Portuguese but the days of the week in that language are numbers. But since the colors of the numbers don’t match the colors of the days, I can never learn the days of the week in Portuguese.